SXSW 2017 | Electric Guest Find a New Path on ‘The Road Less Traveled’

For Electric Guest the road to music stardom appeared to be a straight line. Emerging onto the music scene in 2012 with their buzzed about debut, Mondo, the duo of Asa Taccone and Mathew Compton boasted A-list pedigree (production from Danger Mouse), star quality (Taccone’s brother Jorma is one of the songwriters in the Lonely Island) and their indie pop and R&B inflected songs drew comparisons to Gnarls Barkley, Foster the People, and Beck.

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All seemed like a smooth ride, until Electric Guest took a left turn and disappeared. No new releases. No tours. Only apologetic Facebook updates about working on a new album that never seemed to be. That is until now.

Their follow-up, Plural, is finally out on Downtown/Interscope and appears to be worth the five year wait, filled with streaming-friendly songs that are equally hard to categorize as to get out of your head. 

Now, that Electric Guest is literally back on the road to where fans expected them to go, Taccone is ready to talk about where he’s been and where he’s headed in a recent phone conversation I had with him as the band was driving up the coast to start their upcoming tour.

Crave: There’s a five year gap between Plural and Mondo that you document quite candidly on the band’s Facebook page.

Asa Taccone: It’s been a long time coming. I actually finished the follow-up (album) a year and a half ago. I let people we trust listen to it and they were tepid about it. After sitting with it, I realized I didn’t like it that much either so we scrapped it. 

That’s a ballsy move.

There were still things on there that we loved. The first two songs (on Plural) are off that batch. This album came out a lot faster. In a lot of ways it was less work. We had no references. We could just make music we wanted to hear like “Dear To Me” is a song that has everything I love about music. When you have some success you start thinking you know something. You just need to get out of your head.

That’s easier said than done for artists who tend to be so internal. How did you you manage? Please don’t say yoga. 

I read The Road Less Traveled (by Dr. M. Scott Peck). It’s this ’80s pyschotherapy book that teaches you that the only way to really see yourself is by being objective. How to use new information all around you to write your own map.

Do you think part of the problem is that Electric Guest is hard to pin down musically? Like you were trying to please different masters instead of yourself? 

Totally. We get that all the all the time. Where do we fit? If I write a throwback song like “Oh Devil” and say that I think it should be played on rap stations, they look at me like I’m crazy. Hopefully this album is even more confusing. It has traces of nostalgia. It may sound familiar, but you don’t know exactly where it came from. I love that.

So, is Plural the album you wanted to make? 

My dad asked me the same thing the other day. He said I made a very ‘American’ record. In a lot of ways that’s what I wanted to do.

If you could go back in time to a half-a-decade ago, what would you tell that young, upstart version of yourself?

Not to worry. I’ve always been and always will be a worrier, but it’s all about maintaining a mantra — ‘stop trying to worry about if people understand.’ I would tell him to just put himself out there.

Electric Guest’s Plural is now available. Go HERE for more info (tour dates below). They will also playing at StubHub’s SXSW 2017 showcase on March 16 at 11pm.

Electric Guest Tour Dates: 

Feb 23 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom

Feb 24 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile

Feb 26 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater

Feb 27 – Kansas City, KS – Riot Room

Feb 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club

March 1 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall

March 3 – Albany, NY – The Hollow

March 4 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre

March 5 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom

March 6 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg

March 8 – Washington, D.C. – U Street Music Hall

March 10 – Raleigh, NC – Cat’s Cradle

March 11 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5

March 12 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In

March 14 – Dallas, TX – Trees

March 19 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall Upstairs

March 22 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom

March 23 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah

March 25 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom